BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis is the second leading cause of death from infectious disease. Insufficient knowledge among doctors about tuberculosis is one of the reasons for the increased tuberculosis rates in several low-endemic countries. The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge, experience, and attitude about tuberculosis among medical students. MATERIAL AND METHODS: After a pilot study, a cross-sectional survey was performed on fifth-year medical students at the Catholic University of Rome (Italy), using a self-administered questionnaire on attitude, experience and knowledge about epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of tuberculosis. The t test and multivariable linear regression analysis were performed to estimate the association between TB knowledge and investigated variables. RESULTS: Among 220 fifth-year medical students, the response rate was 83.1%. The mean percentage of correct answers was 56.6% (63.5% for epidemiology and prevention, 54.1% for diagnosis, and 45.7% for treatment). Associations between internships in wards and greater knowledge of tuberculosis diagnosis (55.9% vs. 51.6%, p=0.02), treatment (48.4% vs. 41.8%, p=0.03) and total score (58.1% vs. 54.5%, p=0.04) were found. Students who reported receiving the Mantoux test had higher knowledge of tuberculosis epidemiology and prevention (65.4% vs. 53.3%, p=0.001), diagnosis (55.2% vs. 48.3%, p=0.005), and total score (58.0% vs. 49.1%, p=0.001). Students who had observed at least 1 active pulmonary tuberculosis case had a higher percentage of correct answers about diagnosis (55.5% vs. 51.4%, p=0.03) and total score (57.9% vs. 54.0%, p=0.03). The multivariable linear regression confirmed the association between higher knowledge and receiving the Mantoux test (beta coefficient=7.2; 95% CI 2.6-11.7), as well as having observed at least 1 X-ray of a TB patient (beta coefficient=5.3; 95% CI 1.0-9.7). CONCLUSIONS: A moderate level of general knowledge about tuberculosis was found, which suggests the need to modify current programs of infectious diseases in the curriculum of medical schools.
- clinical experience
- medical education